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Versions - Different performances of the song by the same artist
Compilations - Other albums which feature this performance of the song
Covers - Performances of a song with the same name by different artists
|_Is the Uptown Theatre closed__ - Interview bite with Jerry, 7.10.81 St. Paul, MN|
|Friend of the Devil|
|It Must Have Been the Roses|
|Scarlet Begonias ->|
|Fire on the Mountain ->|
|Estimated Prophet ->|
|Eyes of the World ->|
|Not Fade Away ->|
|Wharf Rat ->|
|Don't Ease Me In|
|Don't Ease Me In|
When I first started listening to matrixes in 2006, it was specifically with volume two of Chris Chappell's masterwork Sick Bits series, which was the entire three-night stand at the Uptown Theatre in 1981. As a long-time Chicagoan, and because these were incidentally the first concerts the Dead played after I was born in January, I was naturally drawn to listening to these recordings. Not surprisingly, I have read different reviews of these shows where each performance has been lauded as the "best night" of the run, which speaks to the high praise of this Uptown trifecta as a whole and why Chris decided to include them all in one volume to begin with, and so early in the series. The Dead were obviously on fire right out of the gates in 1981, and the very impressive spring '81 tour is where this incendiary new energy was headed. This was the last time the Dead would play at the Uptown due to it becoming heavily flooded later that winter from water pipes bursting during a deep freeze, making it beyond immediate repair. The venue still exists today in a dilapidated state, with hopes of it one day being restored - after 33 years.
I lived within walking distance from the Uptown. It has always been a kind of mythical place in the Dead's concert history for me, particularly because of the consistently amazing shows that were played there and the very ornate architecture of the theatre, which was built in 1925 as the largest movie palace in America with "an acre of seats" - 4,381 (imagine seeing the latest Chaplin film with that many people). Also true among Dead lore is that it was a great sounding venue, and the audience tapes consistently convey this. The Uptown always seems to exude a sonorous and intimate sonic energy that pulls the audience in for an especially magical evening.
Of course I thought it would be awesome to matrix these shows, but I never considered it worthwhile since Chris's matrixes were already of such fantastic quality. Then, until only recently, new tapes of this run emerged out of the woodwork by prolific Chicago taper, Mason B. Taylor (a great photo of him just so happens to appear on page one of "The Official Book of the Dead Heads"), which provide a new aural landscape of these historic concerts when compared to Barry Glassberg's tapes that Chris used. While perhaps not as clear and defined as Barry's recordings, Mason's cassettes more so capture an airy spaciousness and raw, electrified energy that works well with the crispy yet flat soundboard tapes. Jerry's guitar also resounds more prominently in Mason's pull, which always seems to makes things sound nicer.
With some excellent new sources in the trading pool, there was no resisting giving at least one of these Uptown shows a shot. This matrix of the 27th is my first foray into this run, seeing that it's the best sounding audience tape of the three nights Mason captured. The 28th is the second best sounding recording, while the 26th is more muffled and boomy sounding due to a different microphone placement. So here is the cream of the crop from the '81 Uptown run, Mason Taylor style (and Dan Healy style, of course). I hope matrix listeners will find this to be a pleasurable new experience of a very fine night in Grateful Dead history, which features a Scarlet Fire of blinding brilliance amidst a non-stop second set. If you've been searching for the sound, you might find some of it here.
Set 1 was matrixed in Chicago, Illinois, one mile west of the Uptown Theatre.
Set 2 was matrixed in Santa Fe, New Mexico.